Greater transparency needed at Ramona school district

By Daniel Wise

The values we place upon our schools, students, and teachers are a direct reflection of our community’s character, future real estate values, and economic development — jobs.

Older schools require regular maintenance of facilities, grounds, and equipment. A slim majority of Ramona citizens have declined passing any temporary school bonds to this affect. There’s a “value-added” from experienced teachers who are professionally trained, certificated, and cleared by state licensing processes. They are committed to their students’ progress. Ramona’s students are working hard and demonstrating success across a multitude of academic measurements: local, state, and national standards.

Before you jump to blame teachers or administrators, get involved by learning the facts. Visit a school campus and speak with administrators and teachers. Go to school board meetings and see how a one-sided, sequestered board is not representing our beliefs or hearing your ideas. Our community needs to see greater transparency regarding the district’s “shell and pea games” it plays with financial projections and reserves.

Teachers have been proposing cuts for two years and are ready to make fair and reasonable pay cuts to our salaries, which by the way, have had no COLA (cost of living adjustment) increase in over four years.

So, schools which have a record of being well run, usually attract quality teachers and younger families into their community, sustaining economic growth with increasing property values. Ramona schools’ performances have consistently demonstrated an ongoing team effort, up to this point in time, resulting in progressive, higher academic student scores with ongoing college advancements. Isn’t this part of the current school reform proposals — to base a teacher’s COLA% upon the achievement of their students?

Dr. Graeff and his rubber-stamp school board are going in the complete opposite direction, forcing teachers and students to punitively pay for their administrative blunders, without any approval from teachers, RTA, PTA or local community input, except when residents tried to fight against the district’s use of eminent domain to acquire the Boundary Avenue property to build a new school they didn’t need.

That attempt at public involvement in the school-planning process was judiciously squelched by former superintendent Peter Schiff, his legal staff, and that school board’s approval, i.e. rubber stamp. Now, burdened by this flawed, financial mismanagement and reckless creation of unsecured, long-term debt, teachers and parents, together, need to pull all of our creative and physical resources together, so we can demand a more responsible and transparent school board process for planning and funding our future children’s education.

Apparently, there’s a status quo of Ramona citizens who don’t have children in the school system anymore, and therefore only care about protecting their own personal tax rates. Imagine that, personal financial concerns driving one’s decision-making. Teachers stand ready to resolve our negotiation issues, so long as the administration is prepared to act forthright with its financial obligations to the entire community. With a failure to reasonably compromise over the “costs” for excellence in education, this district is failing to sustain positive value in children’s schools. Teachers build communities; don’t tear us down.

Danial Wise is a teacher at Barnett Elementary School.

Related posts:

  1. A Modest Proposal for Ramona Unified School District & the Citizens of Ramona
  2. Why compensation cuts from all RUSD employees are needed
  3. Barnett Elementary earns state Distinguished School honor
  4. Budget uncertainties affect school district
  5. Cuts and changes at Ramona school district

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Posted by Maureen Robertson on Mar 23 2013. Filed under Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

9 Comments for “Greater transparency needed at Ramona school district”

  1. Tim

    Education should be one of the communities highest priorities. Make your voice be heard Ramona. Contact your school board members. It is their job to direct the superintendent. If you do not want class size ratios to increase to 35:1 and the school year to be shortened get in touch with them. If you want high quality experienced teachers in Ramona's classrooms let them know. Your input is very valuable. The board is voted in to protect the community's interests. Here is a link to their emails:

  2. Jane Tanaka MD

    Not all of us are status quo apathetic, Mr Wise.
    A small group of concerned Ramonans are meeting weekly,attempting to form a non-profit group to help raise donations for both the COP and for deferred maintenance at our public schools in Ramona. Some of us do care.
    Frankly, if 50% of households in Ramona would donate one dollar a day, then the COP debt could be paid off in less than 20 years. And if the RUSD administration and certain unions would allow, there are probably some Ramonans willing to donate trade expertise, time and materials to help with those leaky roofs.
    Not to blame the teachers and administration… but the longer they fight, the more the public will become disillusioned and apathetic, and the more difficult it might be to rally support from the public.

  3. Dwayne

    I was not in favor of any Govt Bailout and won't bail out this district with my hard earned $$$, even if you say it is a dollar a day. Time to go insolvent and let the state take over and make the decisions since the district won't and keeps listening to the nagging teachers.

    Get over yourselves, do you job or move out of this crumbling school district. Go find your utopia with COLA and more $$$…best of luck with that.

    • Jane Tanaka MD

      Understand your position. That is why this needs to be voluntary, not a Bond.
      Those who dont want to help, dont.

      By the way, the State of California taking over IS A GOVERNMENT BAILOUT.And who pays the State back? Us, for the next 20 years, while we have no say in how our school district is run.

    • um wrong

      I say we elect Dwayne. Dwayne thinks it's wise to hand the district over to the state. This state. California. The one that is working so well. No friggin wonder we keep chasing our tails. Amazing, simply amazing.

  4. big bird

    those negative votes are *not* from people who took you seriously.

    • um wrong

      "Not" sure what you mean. But it changes nothing. This state is so screwed up that any call for this district to be taken over by said state is simply uninformed and mean-spirited. Period. If anyone thinks that solution will take this district anywhere positive should themselves run for these very same school board seats. If Dwayne was serious, he shows the same knack for sound business decisions as the previous leadership he blames. We can always use a better candidate.

  5. Xcal

    todays education isnt worth the money being THROWN at it.

    send the education decisions back to the PTA level and away from Washington!

    lets teach our children values and not ‘agendas’!


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